Monday, 1 September 2014

A Roman Spectacular

The citizens of Londinium, from the year 61 AD, were back in Kings Cross over the weekend.  Chariot races and gladiator workshops were on offer for the thrill seekers.  You could partake in hair braiding and learn the secrets of Roman beauty treatments.  Or if your preferred learning a few home decor skills, you could make your own mosaics.

Queen Bodicea who is rumoured to be buried somewhere beneath platforms 9 & 10 at Kings Cross station made an appearance and I can report has lost none of her feistiness. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

There's a lot at steak here Ted ...

Taste Of Foreign Utopia anyone? … aka Tofu. My carnivorous circle all looked at me like rabbits caught in the headlights and quickly ran off when I suggested a Tofu taste test just for something different.  My leaf loving friends were far more encouraging, but strangely none were available on any of the five tasting dates I offered???.
What could I do? A taste test had to be done. I decided to put a steak in the ground and tracked down three of the best sirloin steaks I could find within a three mile radius of my abode.  You didn’t really think I was going to do Tofu did you?

 … so … moooving along to the good bit … the steaks are high!

Rhug Estate: Welsh beef - organic, grass fed. Rhug pride themselves on sustainable farming and everything happening on the farm from breeding to butchering. They supply 20 Michelin starred restaurants around the world, and they have loads of UK awards. They were the most expensive by a country mile, was it was worth it?  ... Pretty much, especially when you consider that it's organic as well.

Good firm texture, juicy in the mouth, clean, deep savoury flavour with a slight (delicious) salty tang on the finish.  8/10.

The Ginger Pig: English beef - free range, grass fed. Ginger Pig like to ensure that the beef they offer comes from slow growing animals, living as stress free as possible in their paddocks, while eating a natural diet (for cows) of grass and hay. Does a stress free life equal better meat then? ... Yep indeed it seems so.

Cut through it like butter (probably my fabulous cooking), medium texture, good beefy taste, but not overpowering. 7/10.

Barbecoa: Scottish beef - free range, grass fed.  The butchery is part of the Jamie Oliver restaurant of the same name.  They say “we have searched the length and breadth of the UK to find the very best meats, and its quality is second to none”.  A bold claim in such talented company, so how did they fare? ... Well okish.

Good texture, about the right resistance for a juicy chew. But, there was a funny "sweetcorn" edge to the taste. 5.5/10. 

I had the Doll join me and she "blind" tasted them. Oddly, we came to exactly the same conclusions. To be fair all of it was pretty good stuff really, especially when you consider it was judged by exacting Doll standards. Mind you it should have been, given that I paid cattle rustlers prices!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Friday, 29 August 2014

Umbrella Cafe

"Meet you at the umbrella cafe."  It's easy to find.  Have you ever tried to find someone at a very busy market?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Bats in the Cemetery

Old cemeteries are interesting places to wander around.  The Camberwell old cemetery will be even more interesting tomorrow night.  At dusk the bats will be out.  If the idea of bats and graves appeals, then you are in luck.  The London Wildlife trust will lead you on a walk of discovery.  Details here.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Peace Wall

Following the riots in 2011, the Peckham Peace Wall was created.  Hoarding boards that covered broken windows of stores were covered in post-it notes by local people expressing their love and respect for their community.  When the time came to take down the eight hoardings and replace the windows, the locals didn't want to lose the very emotional record of what had happened to their community.

A collaborative response between the public and a group of young artists resulted in a permanent art work.   The Peckham Peace Wall sits in the square outside the library and Peckham Space Gallery.

Monday, 25 August 2014

New Life for Old Tree

A totem pole depicting people around the world has been beautifully carved into an old tree stump.  I haven't been able to find who the artist was, anyone know?  It can be found on the edge of Peckham Common.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Ted and the missing person

Who is Melissa Cole .. why is she famous and why can’t I find her?  She describes herself as a sommALEier, which means she’s really an expert on beer. Every cool beer event I have been to in the last little while people keep saying to me “Hey Ted did you see Melissa?, she was just here” or “oh no Ted you just missed Melissa”.  I was beginning to wonder if this was some big joke that I wasn't in on like the Tom Collins cocktail story.  So when I saw she was doing an “off flavours” beer tutorial as part of the beer festival in London of course I jumped at the chance to finally meet her. Once I got to the "tasting" it suddenly dawned on me .. did I actually know what “off flavours” meant in reality, and in my haste to finally meet Melissa, had I made a really gigantic mistake.

I felt better once I sat down and we were given a little sample of good beer from the pub hosting the event. BrewDog “Dead Pony Club” and no ... I didn’t ask about the ingredients.

 Melissa told us we would be given beer samples that reflected three "off" flavours per round (mercifully only two rounds) and we had to guess, oh I mean decide, through superior old factory and taste bud analysis, which was which. Thankfully, the samples were small. Off flavours can range from the almost innocuous like butter and banana, through metallic and blood, to the truly unpleasant, seriously ... baby sick or skunk anyone!!

We asked Melissa “who made all these terribly flawed beers?” and she laughed and said “oh they are ghosts” ... Huh? ... apparently you buy the most ubiquitous industrially produced lager you can find and add the “I prepared these earlier” flawed characteristics "flavour" capsules.

I am happy to report that my table mates and I got all six of the “offs” correct.  Lucky for them as they are soon to open a store in up and coming Peckham to offer great beer, fabulous vinyl of the music type, and hot sauce … Hop Burns and Black.

As a prize we were given BrewDog currency, with no less than the Governor of the Bank of England's signature on it, to purchase something that we would actually like to drink. I chose the Roosters “Baby Face Assassin” ... and went home happy. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Waterloo Elephant

Lions at the Tower and an elephant in the rail station.  London is still collecting animals in odd places. In Victorian times you might have seen a real elephant at a circus near Waterloo Station, now you'll see this sculpture by artist Kendra Haste.

Waterloo station has become a bit of a white elephant itself since the eurostar moved over to the beautifully refurbished St Pancras International. Now, other than a few productions of the play "the railway children" Waterloo International's platforms lay empty and unused.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Date Like The Movies

London is a city of culture, history and charm, and has been the setting for a huge number of films of many genres. However, when it comes to romance, London provides that special something – be it a stunning historic backdrop, cosy tearooms or busy streets where two people fall in love. Here at, we thought we’d look at the best London scenes from our favourite romantic flicks:

Love Actually (2003)
This classic rom com, from Richard Curtis, outlining the complex love lives of eight different couples living in London, is always a huge hit. The film opens and closes with real footage from Heathrow Airport and features many London hotspots throughout. At the start of the film, Peter and Juliet, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Keira Knightly get married at the Grosvenor Chapel in Mayfair, while later Peter’s best friend Mark (Andrew Lincoln) later declares his undying love with cue cards at the couple’s house at 27 St Luke’s Mews in Notting Hill. Mark’s ‘South Bank’ gallery was an empty house on Great Sutton Street. Selfridges is the department store where Harry, played by Alan Rickman, goes to buy his assistant a present and is served by Rowan Atkinson and almost all the characters attend a nativity play at Elliott School in Putney.
Top Quote: “True love lasts a lifetime.”
Date Idea: Head to one of the regular lunchtime recitals at the Grosvenor Chapel (

One Day (2011)
This adaptation of David Nicholls bestselling novel follows the lives of Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) who meet at Edinburgh University and after becoming firm friends, eventually fall in love. The plot sees the characters in the same day every year and was shot across 50 locations, including London. Landmarks in the film include the Lady Chapel at Westminster Cathedral and the nearby Big Ben, the West End's Sanderson Hotel and the Parliament Hill Lido in Hampstead, where Emma swims and the Rio Cinema in Dalston, where Emma goes on a date with boyfriend Ian, played by Rafe Spall.
Favourite Quote: “Whatever happens tomorrow, we had today.”
Date Idea: Sunday matinee film at the Rio (, followed by a follows by a meal at Mexican restaurant Mezcal Cantina, in memory of Emma’s doomed job at the “graveyard of ambition.”

Sliding Doors (1998)
This British-American comedy sees Gwyneth Paltrow playing Helen, who follows two parallel story lines after catching – or missing – the tube one morning. When she makes the train, she falls in love with James, played by John Hannah after learning her boyfriend is cheating on her. When she misses the train, she only finds out about the infidelity much later but fate leads her back to James.
London underground features heavily and it is at London Embankment that Helen misses the tube, although they were shot at Waterloo and Bank stations. There are also scenes from Fulham Broadway and by the Thames, near Hammersmith Bridge.
Favourite Quote: “James: What are you doing Saturday?
Helen: Probably killing myself.
James: Excellent. What time does that finish? Do you like boats?”
Date Idea: Head to Dine On The Tube, an underground supper club at Basement Galley (

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
The film adaptation of Helen Fielding’s book, features Bridget at 30-something Londoner set on self-improvement. Her love life sees her embark on a romance with handsome playboy Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), while eventually landing the gorgeous Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). Bridget’s flat is above the Globe Pub in Borough Market and the fictitious Greek restaurant that Mark and Daniel comes to blows is Bedales, a wine shop nearby. Daniel’s Cleaver apartment is on Clink Street a minute or so away and Bridget gets advice from her date at the Maghreb restaurant, which is now Momo on Heddon Street. Bridget has two embarrassing career moments in the film, one at the launch of Kafta’s Motorbike, which was filmed at The ICA on the Mall and later she reports from court outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand. However, romance is always on the cards and her romantic kiss with Mark in the snow is outside the Royal Exchange Buildings, near Bank.
Favourite Quote: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.”
Date Idea: A look around Borough Market ( followed by a wine-tasting evening at Bedales (

Notting Hill (1999)
No list of romantic films set in London would be complete without Notting Hill, another gem of a film from Richard Curtis. The story sees the famous actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) walk into the bookshop of William Thacker (Hugh Grant). After a second chance encounter, they meet again and romance begins to blossom. In the opening scene, William is seen walking down Portobello Road Market and Hugh’s house in on Westbourne Park Road and Bella and Max’s house is on Lansdowne Road, nearby. Opposite the tube station is the Coronet Cinema, where William sees Anna in sci-fi short, Helix and it is in the communal Rosmead Gardens, where Anna and William break into after having too much to  drink at a dinner party. Anna stays at The Ritz in central London, while the press conference for her film takes place at The Savoy.
Favourite Quote: “I’m just a girl, standing in front on a boy, asking him to love her.”
Date Idea: Check out Portobello Road Market ( and map out the film’s main spots.

Have you got other favourite London-based films that you think deserve a mention? Tell us @lovestruck

Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Trio of Seats

The importance of being Ernest created by artist Trevor Skempton is the theme of today's bench in the books about town.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Have a Chat with Hugh

Have you ever wondered if only statues talked; I wonder what they would say.

Well guess what, some of them can talk!  Really!  Hugh Myddelton will tell you he thinks he looks great in this outfit, Italian chic of the day.  He'll also chat about his interesting and varied career path leading to him being appointed Royal jeweller to the King.

Not only do statues in London chat with you but so do many in Manchester.   (see which ones here) Go on go and have a chat.  

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Future Back Then

Today you can take a seat on George Orwell's 1984 bench as interpreted by artist Thomas Dowdeswell.  Look for this book about town on the Bloomsbury Trail near the university.